Professional Negligence Limitation Period

This article is for information only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult one of our qualified lawyers for specialist advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Professional Negligence Limitation Period.

Legal claims must be issued within certain very strict time limits. This is known as the limitation period.

Missed limitation periods is quite often a cause of professional negligence claims against solicitors or barristers. On this page, you will find some useful information about professional negligence as well as limitation periods in general.

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You may have a claim in professional negligence if you believe a professional may have:

  • breached their contract with you, or
  • breached their duty of care, or
  • failed to fulfil their professional duties and responsibilities

A professional is deemed to be a person who you have either employed or entered into a contract with to provide a specific service. A professional can be anyone such as a doctor, architect, accountant, surveyor, solicitor or even a barrister.

If you want to pursue an action against a professional, you must have regard to the pre-action protocol for professional negligence. The protocol sets out:

  1. The procedure to be followed.
  2. The information which both parties must exchange.
  3. The timetable with which the parties must comply.

Early advice is vital in assessing the viability and merits of such a claim.

As per most other claims, claims for professional negligence must be issued within certain very strict time limits and within the limitation period.

The time limits and limitation period of each case will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of that case.

Primary Limitation Period

There are different limitation periods for different types of claims, but on the whole, the general limitation period is six years from when the relevant cause of action accrued. This could be, for example, the date when the retainer was breached or the date when the loss was suffered.

Please note that in a case where your claim involves an element of personal injury, the claim usually needs to brought within 3 years. This also applies to medical negligence cases.

The time limits and limitation period of each case will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of that case. It is vital that early specialist advice is sought as soon as possible in order to adhere to the strict limits and limitation period that will apply to your specific circumstances.

The Secondary Limitation Period

You may not always all the relevant facts before issuing a claim within the primary limitation period. You may not even have been aware that you have suffered a loss.
There is a secondary limitation period for professional negligence claims which may apply even if the primary limitation period has expired however this is entirely dependent on the facts and circumstances of each case.

Pursuant to section 14A of the Limitation Act 1980, the limitation period may be extended to three years from the date when you discovered or ought to have known each of the following:

  • The material facts about the loss suffered.
  • The identity of the defendant.
  • This cause of action

The law can be extremely complex and entirely fact specific, so it is very important you seek expert legal advice at the earliest opportunity.

It is important to note that pursuant to section 14B of the Limitation Act 1980, any extended limitation period is subject to a long stop period of 15 years from the date of the negligent act. You will be time barred to bring a claim after that time.

Seeking Leniency

In very rare circumstances involving personal injury, it may be possible for the court to apply its discretion pursuant to section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980.

This area of law is extremely fact specific and the consequences of getting things wrong can be draconian. Professional legal advice should be sought as soon as possible.

About Ventura Law

Professional Negligence Limitation PeriodHimanshu has been in the profession for over 25 years and is an experienced and highly skilled commercial lawyer, litigator and employment law adviser. He is analytical, methodical and always strives to ensure the best outcome is achieved for his clients.

Himanshu regularly represents directors, as well as shareholders and business owners in the range of legal matters that can arise. He is particularly experienced in employment disputes, and issues between partners, shareholders and directors.

Himanshu is also regularly instructed by other lawyers, accountants, doctors, dentists, surveyors, etc in their legal matters.

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Anything posted in this article is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.